Activist Tehseen Poonawalla has approached the Supreme Court seeking directions to be issued to the Central government to open COVID-19 vaccination to all citizens including those below 45 years of age.
The petition, filed by Tehseen Poonawalla, characterizes the extension of vaccination facilities to “prioritized age groups“ above 45 years of age as arbitrary and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
In view of the surge in Covid-19 cases, it has been contended that vaccinations should be allowed for all age groups, especially to persons with co-morbidities such as respiratory illnesses and terminal illness.
In this respect, the petition urges that immediate steps be taken to ensure that vaccines are available not only to persons aged above 45 years but to all persons even below the age of 45-years employed in work that requires them to go outside everyday, along with all persons with any of the co-morbid conditions as vulnerable groups.
Currently, both COVAXIN and COVISHIELD the two vaccines which are in use in India, can be availed only by those who are 45 years or above.
The petitioner submitted that there has been a steep increase in the cases of COVID-19 disease in the country, with the daily rise in cases being that of approximately 1.31 lakh new cases as on April 9.
The arbitrary bar on the age-groups coupled with the sudden rise in the number of infections due to COVID-19 disease necessitates immediate steps to be taken to ensure that vaccination is not only available to persons aged above 45 years but to all such persons, even below the age of 45-years, the petitioner contended.
“The bar on availability of approved vaccines to persons below the age of 45 years, despite having co-morbid conditions, is arbitrary, unreasonable and ultra vires Article 21, which guarantees a right to life, not being a mere animal existence but including within it the right to dignity and appropriate healthcare as well as Article 14, which envisages a right to equality to all the citizens,” it said.
The petitioner prays that the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, makes effective changes in its policy to ensure COVID-19 vaccination to all citizens of the country.The Petition has been moved through Advocates Fuzail Ayyubi and Deepali Dwivedi
CASE NAME: Tehseen Poonawalla v. Union of India